Preamble to “Greatest Motherly Love”
by: Ivory Zhang / Tr. by: Linda Cai
What is a mothers’ love? Some would say that it is an innate ability, programmed into our DNA sequences. Because of mothers, because of mothers’ love, living beings thrive and reproduce on earth.
As human beings, we resided inside our mothers’ wombs before coming into this world. After we were born, mothers and we would stay forever in each others’hearts in normal circumstances.
A mother’s love is the kindness and gentleness while looking at her baby in her arms, the delicacy and warmth she brings to the table days and nights, mornings and evenings. She guards for the growth and mental health of offspring with tireless teaching; she stands behind them as her children fly away, reluctant to part yet sending them delightful wishes.
Unfortunately, not all mothers and children in this world have perfect relationships without regrets. On the other hand, however, love is boundless. Mother’s love is so selfless and heavy that they can light up the lives of countless less fortunate children who were abandoned at birth.
Though not born after ten months of pregnancy and hours of labor, though not related by blood, mothers still treat these children as their own. They care and love them like the April breeze, giving them warm and memorable childhoods, forgetting that they were once abandoned.
You might think that such a kind of boundless love and generosity only exists in newspapers. For example, Lin Qiaozhi, the “Mother of Ten Thousand Babies” who stayed a bachelor all her life and delivered 50,000 children, her immortal reputation seems very far away from us. If Fact, mother’s love as vast as the ocean exists right among us. Let us walk into the life of Mrs. Fang.
Mrs. Fang received a congratulatory letter from Canadian Prime Minister John Harper on the occasion of her and Mr. Fang’s sixtieth diamond wedding anniversary. As a full-time mother, Mrs. Fang is a strong spiritual pillar for her daughters. Through her actions, she explained to them that maternal love is a great love, a universal love, respecting and caring for all different lives.
The Greatest Motherly Love
by: Jia Ni, Yuzhen Li
Mrs. Fang is over the age of eighty, and a graduate of medical school. Her closely related family has been in Canada for five generations, she is the third-gen. She and her husband immigrated to Canada in 1977 and became a full-time housewife for the education and wellbeing of her children. Now, two of her daughters have grown into doctors, the last daughter became a foreign trade expert, and the youngest son became an engineer for the famous Canadian Blackberry company. On the 60th anniversary of her and her husband Mr. Fang’s marriage, they received a letter from then Canada’s Prime Minister Harper, such a wonderful family.
I got to know Mrs. Fang when she came to the Edmonton Chinese Library to donate a book to her husband. At that time, I was a librarian, and we all love her charitable smile and gentle whispers of knowledge. We both like writing, and we become friends day by day. Every time we met, in addition to communicating about writing, sometimes we also chat about our daily lives. But at the mere mention of her youngest son, her face shows a hint of anxiety: nearly 40 years of age, no girlfriend, and he doesn’t even care about it. She said she insisted on her son find a Chinese girl because all three of her daughters have foreign sons-in-law.
That year, when the eldest daughter of Mrs. Fang brought home a foreigner young man, of different cultures, skin color, and language, Mrs. Fang had a hard time accepting and shed tears. Seeing her mother cry, the other two daughters hurried aside to make up for the situation: there are two daughters, they will find a Chinese son-in-law for her mother. Two years later, the second daughter still brought back a foreigner. This time, Mrs. Fang burst right into tears. The youngest daughter promised never to let her mother down again and would find her a Chinese son-in-law. However, the nervous little daughter still brought home a foreign son-in-law in the end. This time, Mrs. Fang did not shed tears. She said, “It’s not that I don’t like foreigners. My three sons-in-law are all excellent. One is a professor and the other two are senior technicians. It’s just that we are Chinese for generations, we are still somewhat traditional in our bones. So I still hope my son can find a Chinese daughter-in-law.”
One snowy winter, Mrs. Fang came to the library to return books, saying she was going to Montreal to take care of her little granddaughter who just underwent surgery. “The child is very well-behaved. Every time we meet, she calls me a grandma in Chinese. If only her grandmother could see him so cute! “Fang mother sighed and said.
“Her grandmother?” I was surprised.
“Yes, she was adopted from China by my eldest daughter.” Mrs. Fang’s said with joy and pride.
Upon my request, she told me a sweet story full of love.
One weekend ten years ago, the family sat around the fireplace, and the eldest daughter said, “I’ve discussed with my husband, we want to adopt a son from China.” This surprised Mrs. Fang. They already have a child of their own, and they were so young that they could have a child by themselves. The daughter asked, “What’s the difference between my children and those I adopted? Is it not the duty of parents to raise a human being into a fine citizen?” The son-in-law nodded from the side. Her daughter’s words relieved Mrs. Fang. However, word came from the orphanage that there were only girls, no boys. The daughter and the son-in-law agreed, a girl is fine too. In this way, a little girl with black hair came to Canada. Her family gave her a Chinese name: Kun Yang (Ocean) yang (Sun). Her surname was Kun after her father’s transliteration, and the name meant “after passing the Pacific Ocean, you see the sun”.
Mrs. Fang is very pleased as the education of love has been deeply implanted in the hearts of her children.
Mrs. Fang’s family has a tradition of the generosity of love. Her father was brought to the United States by her grandfather as a teenager to work and raise the family. Because of his great love, he was noticed by Sun Yat-sen and became his “entourage with a bag”. After Mr. Sun returned to China, he collected donations from overseas Chinese in the United States to support the revolution led by Mr. Sun.
When Mrs. Fang moved to Canada, she dropped her career as a doctor. For her children, she worked as a sewing girl in a factory, and a nurse at an elderly’s home, while studying the local language assiduously. “She had a kind heart,” her daughter said. “She would come home and take care of my father’s grandfather and mother all the time when they couldn’t take care of themselves. To create more harmonious and beautiful lives for the older generation and the younger generation, she has paid great effort. At the age of 70, Mrs. Fang still travels thousands of miles to take care of her daughters in postpartum states and help babysit her grandchildren.
Mrs. Fang once said to her children, “Just like my father, you should think of yourself as the Monkey King who gave up the Flower and Fruit Mountain. Only by following Tang Seng with all your heart can you achieve your goal through all the hardships. This Tang Seng is the local culture and taxpayers.” The children knew that their mother never lowers her head in the face of difficulties because she is full of love, willing to learn, and stays optimistic at all times.
Maybe it was the same education, sharing the same values and outlooks on life, or maybe it was a mutual influence between sisters, two years later the second daughter, who lives in Montreal, discussed with her husband that their daughter is six years old and they would also like to go to China to adopt a child. But this time, the orphanage sent a picture of a boy born with a cleft lip and a hole in the roof of his mouth. What a poor angel! Physical deformity, no parental love… Looking at the photo, the second daughter’s eyes were filled with tears. Her husband put his arm around her shoulders and encouraged her to adopt the child and allow the child to undergo surgery when he’s older. The daughter said to her mother on the other end of the phone, “We can change his life. We have made our decision.”
Once again, Mrs. Fang gave her daughter the greatest moral support. She dug out the red cloth belt she used to carry her child when she was young from an old wooden box. After washing it, she solemnly gave it to her daughter: “I will pass this to you. You can use it to carry your child, let him stay on your back and feel the warmth of his mother.” The daughter took over the red sling and went to China alone. In the curious eyes of passers-by, she carried her children to the Great Wall, Tian ‘anmen Square, and back to Canada. The whole family loved the child very much despite his defects and gave him a Chinese name: Gao Taijia. His father’s transliteration surname is Gao. The middle character “Tai” is taken from Taiyuan, and the last word is “Jia” (nice) because Mrs. Fang said that the child has physical defects, but we will bring him up to be a good child.
One cool autumn afternoon, I was lucky enough to meet Mrs. Fang and her whole family at an Italian restaurant. Looking at the black-haired girl giggling and talking to her blonde-haired sister in English, and then talking to her mom in Chinese, I was moved:
“This girl is blessed. I can’t believe what would become of her if your family didn’t adopt her.”
Mrs. Fang’s family gave me an answer I wasn’t expecting: “It’s not her who is blessed, we are. We have adopted such a good girl.”
“Does she know that she was adopted?” In China, many families are careful about letting their children know that they were adopted.
“She does. We also told her that if she wants to go to China to find her birth mother, we will accompany her.”
I was shocked, a warm current flew through my heart. Yes, everyone has love, the difference is that some love is limited to lovers, family, and friends. But great love is selfless, it is the love for every person and every different kind of life. This is a generous love, which can only be achieved by a wise, broad-minded person. I believe that Mrs. Fang’s family has given me the best explanation of what great love is.
Sometime after, Mrs. Fang was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was still smiling when I saw her. She said to me, “Cancer is not scary. You just need to maintain a good attitude.” She convalesced at home after the operation. One day, I went to visit her. She was going to accompany Mr. Fang to the skating rink. I persuaded Mrs. Fang not to go. “Don’t worry,” she said with a smile. “After the operation, I continued to study English, work out in a fitness center and become the leader of a group for senior citizens to promote Chinese culture. How could I not go with him?” Yes, they love each other just as much as before, everybody knows. Every time Mrs. Fang went out to attend an event, Mr. Fang, who was in his 80s, drives her. They often wrote articles under the pen name “Fang You Yu” (Fang has Yu). Her name was Yu Ai Yi, and the love in the name was self-evident. I accompanied them to the rink that day and witnessed an old man stretching a healthy and stunning posture on the huge ice rink, as well as the fervent love in Mrs. Fang’s eyes as she watched Mr. Fang glide and her childlike cheers from time to time. I was marveled.
I remembered what their daughter said once: “My parents have been together for a long time, through the ups and downs, thicks and thins, and willing to serve the community or others. Their great love set awesome examples for me and my siblings, strengthening and supporting us.”
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